Army Recruits with Criminal Records Exceed 11%
There's a disturbing trend in military recruiting, with 11.6% percent of Army recruits [since October 1, 2006] receiving "moral waivers" of criminal records.
Moral waivers must be approved by an officer of the rank of lieutenant colonel or higher and are required when an Army applicant has been found guilty of committing four or more minor offenses such as littering or disorderly conduct -- or two to four misdemeanors such as larcency, trespassing, or vandalism.
Applicants who have committed a single felony such as arson, burglary, aggravated assault, breaking and entering, or marijuana possession must also receive a moral waiver to join. Applicants with more than one felony -- or with a single conviction for a more serious crime such as homicide, sexual violence, or drug trafficking -- are not eligible.
While Our Nation has a long tradition of many fine young people straightening themselves out through the discipline of military service, and going on to remain productive citizens after their return to civilian life, one cannot help but consider that the pressure on our Army to enlist 80,000 patriots every year means that "moral waivers" are being approved now that would not have been approved as late as 2004.
"In most cases we see, the charges were from a period of time when the applicant was young and immature," said a two-page statement from the Army Recruiting Command, based in Fort Knox, Ky., provided in response to queries from the Globe.
"We look at the recent history such as employment, schooling, references, and signs of remorse and changed behavior since the incident occurred as part of the waiver process," the statement said. "The Army does not rehabilitate enlistees who receive waivers; they have already overcome their mistakes."
Allowing former criminals to fight for their country "is the right thing to do for those Americans who want to answer the call of duty," the statement said.
Even some of the staunchest supporters of the Iraq war believe the Army is signing up too many people with criminal histories.
"The military depends on good order and discipline and we should be seeking the type of recruits most likely to fill that profile," said Elaine Donnelly , president of the Center for Military Readiness, a conservative advocacy group in Washington. Since CMR has yet to encourage non-criminal American heterosexuals to Be A Man! Enlist!, however, what, exactly, does Ms. Donnelly mean by "We"?
Let's look at the bright side, Ms. Donnelly: At least they're not Gay!